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Leader-follower crossover: exhaustion predicts somatic complaints via StaffCare behavior

Christina Köppe (Competence Center for Personnel Psychology, University of Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany)
Jana Kammerhoff (Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment, University of Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany)
Astrid Schütz (Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment, University of Bamberg, Bamberg, Germany)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 11 June 2018

Issue publication date: 10 July 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the direct and indirect crossover effects of leaders’ exhaustion on followers’ somatic complaints by testing leaders’ health-oriented behavior toward employees as a possible underlying mechanism.


A two-wave online study using data from different sources was conducted. In a sample of 106 leaders and followers, leaders were paired with one or two followers. Leaders rated their level of exhaustion at Time 1, and followers rated their leaders’ health-oriented leadership behavior (i.e. StaffCare behavior) and their own level of somatic complaints three months later (Time 2).


Results provided evidence of an indirect crossover effect from leaders’ exhaustion to followers’ somatic complaints through StaffCare behavior. There was no direct crossover effect.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that organizations should attend to leaders’ health as a means to allow for StaffCare behavior and thus protect employee health.


StaffCare behavior represents a new concept that focuses on health-related aspects of leadership. This is the first study to take an in-depth look at the question of how this leadership behavior is tied to crossover from leader exhaustion to follower health.



The authors would like to thank Iris-Katharina Koch for providing helpful comments on a previous version of this paper and Jane Zagorski for copyediting.


Köppe, C., Kammerhoff, J. and Schütz, A. (2018), "Leader-follower crossover: exhaustion predicts somatic complaints via StaffCare behavior", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 297-310.



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